Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘terrorism

The ascendancy of USSOCOM

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Below is an excerpt from an informative article on one of the aforementioned “Solutions to the vulnerability of a globalized world”—imperialism. Specifically, the military aspect of American imperialism.

As we know, someone has to protect the global supply chain, and U.S. special forces apparently won the contract. “Coming to a Third World country near you!”

The Golden Age of Special Operations
Andrew Bacevich; TomDispatch; May 29th, 2012

Since 9/11, USSOCOM’s budget has quadrupled. The special operations order of battle has expanded accordingly.  At present, there are an estimated 66,000 uniformed and civilian personnel on the rolls, a doubling in size since 2001 with further growth projected. Yet this expansion had already begun under Obama’s predecessor.  His essential contribution has been to broaden the special ops mandate.  As one observer put it, the Obama White House let Special Operations Command “off the leash.”

As a consequence, USSOCOM assets today go more places and undertake more missions while enjoying greater freedom of action than ever before.  After a decade in which Iraq and Afghanistan absorbed the lion’s share of the attention, hitherto neglected swaths of Africa, Asia, and Latin America are receiving greater scrutiny. Already operating in dozens of countries around the world — as many as 120 by the end of this year — special operators engage in activities that range from reconnaissance and counterterrorism to humanitarian assistance and “direct action.”

Written by M. James

June 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm

In the West: a crippling failure to understand religion

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Some of us may be able to will God out of existence, but religion is not so accommodating.

The virtue of the following excerpt—from a March 2011 interview with Bruce S. Thornton—is not only in its ability to condense so much controversial subject matter into three paragraphs, but also in its prudent suggestion to “take religion seriously.”

We in the West assume our ideals and goods are universal. They are, but only potentially: there are many alternatives to our way of living and governing ourselves, most obviously Islam and its totalizing social-political-economic order, sharia law. Suffering from this myopia, we fail to see those alternatives or take them seriously, usually dismissing them as compensations for material or political goods such as prosperity or democracy.

Worse yet, our enemies are aware of this weakness, and are adept at telling us what we want to hear, and using our own ideals as masks for their own agendas. Just look at the misinterpretations of the protestors in Egypt and the Muslim Brothers, not just from liberals but from many conservatives, who have been duped by the use of vague terms like “freedom” or “democracy.”

An important factor in this bad habit is our own inability to take religion seriously. Since religion is mainly a private affair, a lifestyle choice and source of private therapeutic solace, we can’t imagine that there are people so passionate about spiritual aims that they will murder and die in the pursuit of those aims.

Written by M. James

April 4, 2012 at 1:12 am

Overwhelmed by information

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Fifteen years on, here is a still-influential piece about a global information revolution, and why American culture, and military, are unquestionably dominant. Most striking is Peters’s analysis of global disillusionment with American success.

Most citizens of the globe are not economists; they perceive wealth as inelastic, its possession a zero-sum game. If decadent America (as seen on the screen) is so fabulously rich, it can only be because America has looted one’s own impoverished group or country or region.

Our military power is culturally based. They cannot rival us without becoming us. Wise competitors will not even attempt to defeat us on our terms; rather, they will seek to shift the playing field away from military confrontations or turn to terrorism and nontraditional forms of assault on our national integrity.

The world’s response, Peters thought, would be anger at self and at America. Fifteen years on, this has taken shape in the Middle East through revolution—addressing self—and extensive terrorist networks—addressing both America and self.

As more and more human beings are overwhelmed by information, or dispossessed by the effects of information-based technologies, there will be more violence. Information victims will often see no other resort. As work becomes more cerebral, those who fail to find a place will respond by rejecting reason.

A bold claim, especially when the rejection of reason in the Islamic world is generally attributed to Islam itself.

Written by M. James

March 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm

“A new era of repressive authoritarianism”

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The Changing Objects of Fear: The Arrest of İlker Başbuğ
Gareth H. Jenkins; Central Asia-Caucasus Institute Silk Road Studies Program; Jan. 9, 2012

In the early hours of January 6, 2012, General İlker Başbuğ, who served as chief of the Turkish General Staff from 2008 to 2010, was arrested and imprisoned on allegations of “founding or directing an armed terrorist organization” and “inciting the overthrow of the government of the Turkish Republic or the prevention of it fulfilling its duties.” …

… in today’s Turkey it is not the military but the Gülen Movement that people need to fear.

Written by M. James

January 14, 2012 at 12:47 am